Lesson: Lesson 1:Brainstorming

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Brainstorming is the first part of writing.  It is important to come up with good ideas or no matter how clear the sentence structure is, the paper will be poor.  In this lesson, we are encouraging students to come up with questions for a personality feature interview. The idea if for students to think of what they would like to know about their peers so taht when they write an article, other people will find it interesting to read.   No one really finds birthday or birth place very interesting unless the person was born in the back of a taxi or on an airplane.   So in general, we do not focus on family or background information.  It is best to focus on the present day interests of the interviewee and how they originated.


  • To teach students to think creatively and to collaborate using the latest in collaboration and brainstorming software: 
  • To get students to take ownership of the questions for an interview
  • To enhance creativity and intellectual risk taking
  • To teach students to use collaboration software



If the teacher would like to do the brainstorming in class, then the primary material needs would be paper and pens.  If the teacher would like to use computers for electronic brainstorming, then he/she will need Internet access.   With Internet access, students can brainstorm using one of the following:   Google Groups, if a group has been set up by the teacher; Google Wave, if students have an account, or Edistorm  (great collaboration tool)

here is a cool video that explains brainstorming for a feature, not just a personality feature:  http://www.squidoo.com/feature-article


      To start, the teacher should model the brainstorming activity on the board. Have a few students to come up, brainstorm about good questions, write them on the board, and then get class input on the questions.  Explain and demonstrate that it is OK to ask detailed questions. Put students in groups of three to four and have them go to work either using pen and paper or a computer. Give students a fixed amount of time to come up with good questions for an interview or they will fritter away the time. At the end have students report to the group.



Have students continue the brainstorming using the collaboration tools mentioned in Materials.Make sure that you give them specific instructions regarding using the Internet tools. Did student participate in group?


Assessment Questions:

Did students come up with good questions?

Did the peer group feel the questions got at interesting information?

Did students learn to use a video camera?

Were questions good for an interview?

Connections to Standards:

  • California State Standards:
  • 1.5 Organize ideas chronologically or around major points of information.
  • 1.6 Provide a beginning, a middle, and an end, including concrete details that develop
  • a central idea.
  • 1.7 Use clear and specific vocabulary to communicate ideas
  • 1.8 Clarify and enhance oral presentations through the use of appropriate props


Teacher Notes:

Brainstorming is an important part of the writing process.  In fact, good thinking means good writing.  It is important for students to come up with the questions themselves rather than having teacher created questions.   The idea is to have students think and practice being creative.  Don't be concerned if it takes them longer than expected to get become creative and come up with questions since often students are used to being told what to do.

Time needed to teach:

2-3 Sessions


Online Collaboration
Web Tools


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